Vera Zvonareva, Andrea Petkovic, Agnieszka Radwanska and Peng Shuai headline the WTA tournament in San Diego, which starts on Monday. The draw reminds me a little of the grass-court tournament in Birmingham but it is slightly stronger with more strength in depth across the line-up of seeds. The top eight seeds all have byes in Round 1; there are two interesting encounters to look out from the array of first round matches.
Roberta Vinci, who has propelled herself in to the top 30 will take on the rising Serbian star, Bojana Jovanovski. Vinci has managed to rise up the rankings with some excellent results on the clay. However she is less dominant on the hard courts and Jovanovski’s hard hitting could cause an upset here. The other highlight match is between Maria Kirilenko and Rebecca Marino. Kirilenko has raised her level since Roland Garros after a poor start to the season. However Marino has a huge game and the potential to cause some problems on her favoured hard courts. Ultimately I’m going to go for Kirilenko to sneak through in this one.
Vera Zvonareva will open up against a Qualifier in Round 2 but has a difficult draw. She could meet either Sabine Lisicki or Dominika Cibulkova in the Quarter-finals. Both players have caused her problems in previous matches this year, Cibulkova in fact was victorious in their encounter at Indian Wells. Lisicki’s recent form has been excellent and it is hard to look past her at the moment. I would expect her to beat Cibulkova but a match-up with Zvonareva will be interesting after she wasted match points in their 2nd round encounter at Roland Garros.
Peng Shuai has been one of the most consistent performers on the tour this year and should progress through to at least the Semis. The number 5 seed, Ana Ivanovic is Peng’s seeded quarter-final opponent. However Ivanovic has looked way short of her best form and will face a difficult encounter in Round 2 against either Ayumi Morita or Jelena Dokic. Despite a disappointing performance in Washington, i’m going for the irratic Dokic to come through. Flavia Pennetta is also in this section of this draw and has struggled of late; however I predict she will have a good week back on her favoured hard courts.
In the bottom half of the draw, the number 2 seed Andrea Petkovic should face Ekaterina Makarova in Round 2. She has a reasonable draw and is seeded to meet Julia Goerges in the Quarters but it is more likely that it will be Maria Kirilenko. Daniela Hantuchova and Agnieszka Radwanska are scheduled to meet in the Quarters and I would expect both players to make it there. Hantuchova has been on terrific form of late and was denied by Sharapova in a three set tussle in Stanford. Radwanska could face Jarmila Gajdosova in Round 3, who she lost to in Madrid earlier this year. However I would expect Radwanska to come through in a tournament that she thrived in last year reaching the final. Despite her recent mental lapses, Radwanska played some of her better tennis of the year in Stanford and looked to be playing with more aggression, which is the way she has to go if she is to progress.
Its especially difficult this week predicting a winner. Peng and Radwanska are so consistent but its hard to see either of them winning the title and Petkovic can still throw in a bad performance here and there. I think the winner will come from the top quarter and at this moment in time, i’m going to go with Lisicki. My record of predictions has been poor lately so i hope i haven’t cursed Sabine this week! However I just couldn’t go against her after i’ve championed her so much!
I’m not going for any big upsets this week after my disappointing predictions for Stanford!
Round 1 Punts – Jovanovski to beat Vinci (6/4) and Marino to beat Kirilenko (2/1)
Predicted Winner – Sabine Lisicki